Walker’s past could let Warnock keep Senate seat, rivals say

Jeff Amy
Associated Press

Atlanta – Republicans risk losing the U.S. Senate race if they nominate Herschel Walker, two of Walker’s rivals said, citing a report by The Associated Press about how police confiscated a gun from the former football great following a domestic dispute 20 years ago.

“I’m here today because more shocking pieces of Herschel Walker’s past have been discovered,” Senate candidate and state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told reporters Friday in Atlanta. “And I’m deeply concerned that we’re about to forfeit control of the United States Senate again, under our watch, when it could be easily avoided.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gary Black tells reporters on Oct. 28, 2021, in Marietta, Ga., that fellow candidate Herschel Walker's history of violence against women should disqualify him. Black, Georgia's agriculture commissioner, argues Walker will be subject to fatal Democratic attacks if Republicans nominate him to face Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.

Black repeated an earlier statement that Walker’s past should disqualify him from the Senate.

Another rival, Navy veteran and former banker Latham Saddler said Thursday that Republicans need to nominate someone with “a clean record” and can’t risk the “drip, drip, drip of stories” about Walker.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during former President Donald Trump's Save America rally in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25, 2021.

“Herschel cannot win this seat. I am the only candidate in this race who can lead us to victory against the Warnock-Abrams machine and stop Biden’s destructive agenda,” Saddler said in a statement, referring to current Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, presumed Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and Democratic President Joe Biden.

Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff won both Georgia Senate seats – and with them, the U.S. Senate majority – in January 2021.

The AP reported Thursday that police in Irving, Texas, confiscated a gun from Walker in 2001 following a domestic disturbance because the former football legend talked about having “a shoot-out with police.” Walker’s ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, alleged that she was a repeated target of abuse. She said Walker had violent outbursts and demonstrated “physically abusive and threatening behavior.” Grossman in 2005 sought a protective order after Walker repeatedly voiced a desire to kill her and her boyfriend, according to court records.

Mallory Blount, a spokesperson for Walker, dismissed the report Thursday.

“The very same media who praised Herschel for his transparency nearly two decades ago are now running … stories, stereotyping, attacking, and going so far as to question his diagnosis,” she said in a statement, referring to Walker’s acknowledged mental illness. “It’s shameful and is why people don’t trust the media.”

In his 2008 book, “Breaking Free,” Walker said he had constructed as many as a dozen personalities for himself as a defense against the bullying he suffered as a stuttering, overweight child. But court records and police reports document a far more turbulent path than portrayed in the book, which was framed as a turnaround story.

A former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader told Irving police in May 2002 that she believed Walker had been lurking outside her house. The woman said she had a confrontation with him roughly a year earlier, which led to Walker making threatening phone calls, according to a police report. She said Walker later followed her home.

In 2012, a woman named Myka Dean told Irving police that Walker threatened to wait outside her apartment and “blow her head off” when she tried to end an “on-off-on-off” relationship with him, which she said had lasted for 20 years.

There have been no reports of violence involving Walker in the past decade.

Walker’s violent history has done little to deter Republican support for his candidacy. He has been championed by former President Donald Trump and endorsed by the Senate’s top Republicans.

The former Heisman Trophy winner has been raising far more money than his competitors and they’re scrambling for traction, saying Walker’s appearances have been carefully controlled.

“It is time for Herschel Walker to enter through the front door, make himself available to the public and have the press do interviews that test your knowledge and skills and answer the many questions that everyone has,” Black said Friday, saying Walker needs to talk about his policy positions as well as his past.

Walker has not granted the AP an interview despite repeated requests. Blount said Friday that Walker has conducted 92 public events and 80 interviews since announcing his campaign in August.

Contractor Kelvin King and state Rep. Josh Clark are also seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Warnock.

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Associated Press writer Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.